At the Journal, we are well aware of the power of the pen.
So it came as no surprise to learn that Charles Dickens’ book “A Christmas Carol” was one of the major influences to instill the idea of Christmas as a celebration of family and friends in addition to being a religious day.
This popular novel reminds us to think of others’ needs as well as our own and the spirit of Christmas.
With this in mind, we urge you to spread good tidings and joy by volunteering for or attending local events.
Here are a few we recommend:
• San Juan Island Blood Drive, Wednesday, Dec. 13, noon – 6 p.m., Mullis Community Senior Center.
• The Animal Protection Society of Friday Harbor’s holiday-themed happy hour, Dec. 15 from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 15 at Rumor Mill. Wear your ugliest sweater.
• “A Village Christmas,” a concert of carols for Advent and Christmas, Saturday, Dec. 16, 3 p.m. at St. David’s Episcopal Church.
• Salish Sea’s production of “The Nutcracker” at Brickworks, Saturday, Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 17 at 2 p.m.
Now back to Dickens.
John Jordans, who heads the Dickens project at University of California Santa Cruz, said in an NPR radio show several years ago that “the Cratchit family or Scrooge’s nephew are models for how to hold a one-day family celebration with the goose or the turkey or whatever.”
“A Christmas Carol” was published in 1843 just before Christmas on Dec. 17. Despite selling out in just three days and expecting to earn £1,000, Dickens made just £130 profit, according to an article in “The Telegraph.”
In 1853, 10 years after the book’s publication, Dickens began performing readings and was known as a great actor, bringing each character to life.
Due to the popularity of the tale, Dickens was also asked to write Christmas stories almost every year up until 1857. It’s amazing that now, 143 years after Dickens’ death and 170 years after “A Christmas Carol” was published, the story lives on.
There have been Opera and ballet versions, a musical called “Comin’ Uptown” in 1979 and even a 1973 mime adaptation for the BBC starring Marcel Marceau. “A Christmas Carol” has been adapted to film more than 200 times and has even been made into a Muppets’ movie.
So what is the lesson that Dickens left with us? As we celebrate the holidays, it’s a time to remember that Dickens’ notion of Christmas was not the dread of family feuds, bright lights on our eaves, loads of presents, or even decorating a tree, but a story of redemption, love and the meaning of life.
Dickens’ book is not only a way to celebrate Christmas, but a way to reflect on our purpose in life. With that, we at the Journal wish you a merry holiday season and a life of good cheer.